Team with Leadership

Team with Leadership

A team might be showing signs of bad fruit (like bickering, gossip, slander, stress, burnout, etc) if members in the team are heading in conflicting directions. Times like that need a leader to better clarify the common goal and re-explain the direction (how to get from where they are to where they must be).

Trying to address the bad fruit might be a waste of effort if the issue is a lack of sunlight.

What does a radish tree look like?

Radish vs AppleI thought it would be fun to write a short story in the style of a parable:

A child is born and grows into a man without ever knowing about radishes or apples. He has no idea what they are or where they come from. One day, a stranger hands him a radish and tells him it’s an apple. With only a radish in his hand, will the man know what an apple tree looks like? Of course not! If he bites into the radish and it has a bitter taste, will he ever seek out and find an apple tree that grows radishes? Of course not! Another stranger comes along and hands the man an apple and tells him it’s an apple. With the memory of a radish fresh in his mind, will the man even take a second look at the apple?

Obviously, this is a story to illustrate the dilemma that Christianity faces in a world where anybody can easily claim they are Christian without being questioned or confronted. It doesn’t mean the apple tree isn’t worth finding.

Seeing the Forest

Bread in BasketAt some point in our lives (if we’re lucky), we’ll need to prepare for our own death. That will probably be a slow and disturbing process of selling, giving, discarding and getting ready to say goodbye to everything else. Absolutely everything.

Mark 8 tells of a story about the disciples crossing a lake realizing that they had forgotten to bring food. Jesus warns them about King Herod and the religious leaders but the disciples began to argue about forgetting their food. After Jesus reminds them about the miraculous provisions they’ve seen from him, he ends with a question on verse 21: “Don’t you understand yet?” Interestingly, he also started with the same question and added this question: “Are your hearts too hard to take it in?”

Richard Sterns, author of Unfinished, wrote that the expression “He can’t see the forest through the trees” used to describe a person who is so focused on the things right in front of him that he has lost a sense of the bigger picture. He goes on to say that if we are ever truly going to find purpose and meaning in our lives, we first have to rise above the trees to rediscover the forest. In other words, we have to understand what God is doing in the world and how we fit in.

Verse 21 is ringing in my ears today and I’m contemplating about whether seeing the bigger picture is more a matter of the heart than it is a matter of the mind. If so, what does that require?

Rewrite Canada’s Prostitution Laws

Trafficking and Sexual ExploitationSince the Supreme Court ruling on Dec 20, 2013, Canada has one year to rewrite the prostitution laws and has asked for public consultation – ending March 17, 2014.

A study found that 95% of prostitutes in Canada (90% worldwide) would like to exit the business if they could and 95% of prostitutes experienced sexual harassment which would be legally actionable in a different job setting. But because of criminal conviction against prostitutes, it has been difficult to do anything about these issues – and even more difficult for trafficked women who might be here illegally, don’t know the language or laws well, and/or are terrified of their captors.

How we restructure the legal system is very important if we want to correctly address the issues of prostitution and sex trafficking in Canada. We can’t simply decriminalize the industry since an unrestrained demand will yield more trafficked women and children.

Now is the time to write letters to your local MP and the Department of Justice encouraging them to adopt the Nordic Model for Canada.

The Nordic Model is a tried, tested, and true model that has proven to greatly reduce sex trafficking and prostitution. It does this by criminalizing brothels, pimps, and buyers of sex while, at the same time, making it easier for prostitutes to get help exiting the industry. For more detailed information, read The Tipping Point by Joy Smith, MP.

Below are some very practical things that you can do which WILL have an impact on what Canada will look like in the generations to come. Please don’t be silent. Every voice matters.

Please note that the Nordic model is also strongly supported across political, religious and women’s rights organizations including, but not limited to:

  • Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres
  • Native Women’s Association of Canada
  • Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
  • Action Ontarienne Contre La Violence Faite Aux Femmes
  • La Concentration Des Luttes Contra L’Exploitation Sexuelle
  • Le Regroupement Quebecois Des Centres d’Aide et De Lutte Contre Les Agressions A Caractere Sexual
  • Vancouver Rape Relief Society
  • Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
  • Defend Dignity
  • [free-them]
  • Walk With Me
  • Aboriginal Women’s Action Network
  • Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution
  • South Asian Women Against Male Violence
  • London Abused Women’s Centre
  • Catholic Women’s League
  • Sex Trade 101

Here are my answers to the public consultation in case anyone needs help:

1. Do you think that purchasing sexual services from an adult should be a criminal offence? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
Comment: Purchasing sexual services should absolutely be a criminal offence. The demand for sexual services will continue to grow as more and more generations become addicted to online gonzo porn – an increasingly popular sexual appetite that cannot be satisfied within the confines of a healthy relationship.

2. Do you think that selling sexual services by an adult should be a criminal offence? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
Comment: No. Criminalizing the selling of sexual services will make it more difficult for sex trafficking victims from coming forward. It will also make it harder for them to exit the trade if they need help to do so.

3. If you support allowing the sale or purchase of sexual services, what limitations should there be, if any, on where or how this can be conducted? Please explain.
Comment: Pimps shouldn’t be allowed to profit from the avails of someone else. Procuring sex and brothels should be illegal.

4. Do you think that it should be a criminal offence for a person to benefit economically from the prostitution of an adult? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
Comment: Yes. Permitting economical gain encourages sex trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation.

5. Are there any other comments you wish to offer to inform the Government’s response to the Bedford decision?
Comment: Please take seriously the voices of sex trafficking victims. Their voices are being silenced so the few who can speak should be taken seriously and contrasted carefully against the vast majority of people who don’t fully understand the seriousness of the problem.

6. Are you are writing on behalf of an organization? If so, please identify the organization and your title or role:
Comment: No.

Block porn at the ISP level

Porn is a major force that’s negatively impacting personal development, marriages, relationships, children, and society as a whole – both nationally and globally.

It’s commonly a factor behind cases of rape, sex abuse, child abduction, sexual coercion, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual dysfunction, adultery, divorce, family dissidence, and even cyber bullying.

Popular opinion is that porn itself is harmless and yet we are seeing more stories like this appear in the news: 13-Year-Old Boy Pleads Guilty to Raping His Younger Sister After Seeing Porn on an X-box.

The Internet generation of the 90s has been escalating into obscene porn addiction at alarming rates and each new generation is entering this fast-track to neurologically addictive material faster and faster.

According to research, there is consistent and reliable evidence that watching porn is directly related to male sexual aggression against women and that one in three boys are heavy porn users.

“Being a man means recognizing sexual violence and being outraged by it and doing [your] part to stop it.” – Barack Obama

The more people become addicted at a young age, the more people will have unhealthy and uncontrollable appetites for sex, and the more common child pornography, prostitution, and sex slavery will be in the next few decades – putting each new generation at an increasingly greater risk of exploitation at a young age.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela

Knowing that laws don’t change hearts, how can we convince people not to look at porn and instead choose self-control, restraint, and compassion? How?

In the meantime, how can we reduce the number of children in future generations from encountering porn at an early age and risk getting addicted to it? There’s certainly no silver bullet here, but blocking porn by default at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) level could help. Households could then opt-in for receiving porn.

If you think a default porn block could help reduce the number of out-of-control sex predators in future generations, please sign the petition and send it to Mrs. Joy Smith, Member of Parliament who will present it to the House of Commons. With such a controversial subject, every signature counts. Please share this with friends, family, and colleagues.

The petition can be mailed postage-free to the address at the bottom of the petition page.

Download Petition

To stay informed of the issue, monitor Stop Porn Culture and Porn Harms. Both resources have newsletter signups and Facebook pages. I also encourage everyone to read about project Groundswell.

Bill Nye vs Ken Ham

The Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate was an excellent debate with good points on both sides of the discussion. I’d like to summarise the positions of each man and provide my personal opinions.

Bill Nye is advocating that parents and teachers ignore the creationist account of history in order for the United States to remain a strong economic leader.

Ken Ham is advocating that parents and teachers clearly explain the differences between historical vs observational science as well as micro vs macro evolution.

Bill’s presentation is compelling and he has some good arguments about using observations to predict events. Ken’s presentation is also compelling and warns that using present-day observations to predict past events is dangerous and misleading if presented as fact.

Whatever we believe – whether it’s a really old earth or a really young earth – we require faith to believe it since none of us were there to observe it directly. Ken argues that we should call it what it is and not confuse the terms.

My personal opinion is this: Bill’s motives for trying to silence and undermine inquisitive minds who challenge the majority is for continued economic advancement over other countries. He’s assuming that scientific advancement is the most important mechanism by which a country advances. But do broken relationships, torn apart families, drug addictions, violence, and moral decay in general not have an impact on a society’s ability to produce good fruit? In other words, “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Besides, a belief in creation does not mean a stunted growth in scientific advancement. These are not mutually exclusive concepts. Observational science is still very fascinating and exciting for atheists, Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike.

At the end of the day, my position is this: the debate is not over. It’s not stupid to challenge the norm. In fact, it’s good to ask questions and explore. Also, a belief in a God who loves us can bring comfort to aspiring scientists, help them weather personal storms, and inspire them to explore and learn more about His beautiful and deeply intriguing creation.

Watch the debate for yourself and form your own opinions.

Thank you Joy Smith

Joy Smith is the one behind the human trafficking laws that made this news story possible.

When you read it, ponder these questions:

  • How could all of this have been avoided in the first place?
  • Is it likely or unlikely that the Johns have uncontrollable appetites for sex?
  • Are the pimps trying to make a profit off the Johns’ appetite for sex?
  • How might criminalizing the demand for prostitutes affect the pimps’ business model?
  • What’s more important: protecting the Johns or protecting the girls?
  • What might’ve lead the Johns to having uncontrollable appetites for sex?
  • How likely is it that pornography was a factor in the men wanting prostitutes?

Thank you Joy Smith for your work in getting Canada to implement human trafficking laws. I support your more recent efforts to criminalize the Johns and block pornography (by default but with an option to opt-out) at the ISP level.

Hunting for good ideas in a DEV team

Idea HunterWhen discussing a new design with a team of developers by weighing PROS and CONS of different ideas, it’s important to keep the discussion on the correct topic and use only valid arguments. Doing so will help reduce the noise that interferes with the team’s hunt for good ideas.

All too often, developers will have a myiopic view of the discussion topic and only see how much work is required to reach the destination. Although having that perspective is important in weighing the cost of a good design, it has very little impact in the active discussion about whether the design is good or not – particularly in the PROS and CONS stage.

My personal approach is to suspend the discussion about costs until we’ve exhausted the list of valid PROS and CONS. Instead, my initial focus is entirely on what would be ideal for the end user. Usually the costs can be minimized later anyway with some creative thinking.

Depending on the people involved, some arguments hold more or less importance. Personally, the following arguments don’t usually hold any value to me (unless they’re from the end user directly) and are treated as “obstacle arguments”:

  • “It’s not how we’ve always done it.”
  • “It’s not consistent with something else.”
  • “I don’t like it.”
  • “‘Other people’ don’t like it.”
  • “It’s not my job to do that.”
  • “It’s my job to do that.”
  • “It’s too political.”

I call them “obstacle arguments” because they’re usually hiding a fountain of fresh ideas that have caused others to stop exploring further. An optimum design is usually worth confronting these obstacles – always in a delicate and respectful manner, of course. =)

A team often has a lot of good ideas just waiting to be discovered – but because many people marry themselves to their own ideas, aren’t equipped to discuss different opinions well, or are resistent to change, organizations often struggle to leverage the full power of an effective and healthy team.

The hunt for better ideas (that can only be discovered with a team) should be fun – not painful!